The Hippus were always justly proud of their animal husbandry. Their lands, even in the Age of Magic, had fertile hills that teemed with sheep and wide plains with vast herds of horses that they tamed very shortly after the Compact, passing this trade down in their tribes since time immemorial. However in Patria magic surpassed the use of horses for most purposes. Great creatures were conjured for war, portals allowed rapid travel, and golems toiled endlessly in the fields. Then came the great Upheaval of Patria, when magicians turned against each other, battling for the soul of the empire of man. Kylorin called upon the Hippus people to help him hunt down his wayward servants as the portals across Erebus were closed.
When demons and elementals were banished, the wild Hippus raiders were still there to charge down enemy warrior mages. These exploits brought great renown to a people formerly ignored in the great empire, even as the empire crumbled. This newfound pride crippled the Hippus, breeding a fierce martial competitiveness. Their clans, even while nominally aligned, would refuse each other’s help and even raid each other. They were able to hold back the advances of the frostling hordes of the Age of Ice, though many Hippus communities were wiped out by a frost golem assault rather than seek the aid of their cohorts.
As the other great nations emerged into the Age of Rebirth, the Hippus turned to raid them, as well as each other, until this proud people looked to be eclipsed by peoples more united and disciplined. Rhoanna, who inherited leadership of a small Hippus tribe, made it her mission to unite her people without losing their culture. She formed the Hippus mercenary companies, and made their martial prowess and competitiveness serve them rather then consume them. Tasunke was the most famous raider amongst the Hippus; it was expected that he would challenge her for leadership, but he embraced her idea, seeing foreign gold a better measure of a tribe’s prowess than slain kinsmen.
80% Chaotic Neutral
1% Chaotic Evil
Adult population Lvl 1 or higher: 6%
Other: < 1%
Those born to the saddle become as one with their mount. In battle, this means the horse will evade incoming attacks, turn a second before you urge it to, and push itself harder than it would for anyone else. On a journey, even an urgent one such as this, it means one can let her mind wander.
She was the daughter of a chieftain of a minor tribe. Her father was constantly warring with the other Hippus tribes: leading his raiders against their herds, drunkenly bragging of his valor by the campfires, scheming ways to gain some petty advantage. She wanted to scream at him, “You foolish old brute! Can’t you see that our people are dying? Killing each other over honor, over imagined slights, as day by day the nations encroach on our land, their cities and armies pushing us ever closer and we turn on each other? Wake up! Think of something!” Then one raid, he didn’t come back. Nor her brother. And her people turned to her.
A fateful battle, almost costing their tribe its young new leader, Rhoanna caught up in the tribe’s expectations, raiding their neighbors. But they had deserved it this time, had raided her people and stolen their heartiest rams. She learned the hard way that she was not the warrior her father was. She was imposing in her family’s armor, but when the time came to strike a blow at her cousins, she hesitated. Her adversary had no such delay. His swing was quick. Her parry awkward. In the dirt, confusion, hooves all about, clamor… She made it out alive to join in the retreat. The lifelong pain in her shoulder was worth the lesson—she could not continue the status quo, or she, and her people, would be trampled.
The third council meeting was pivotal. Half the tribes had joined Rhoanna’s band. The weaker half. Tasunke was the key to the rest. The esteem he was held in could sway the strongest tribes if he agreed to join her coalition.
“Well, ye’ve come all this way, lass, have your say and be gone. The Aroul-Hippi need no one, least of all your rag-tag band.” This boast earned a hearty laugh from his companions.
That bravado was key, she told herself. I must make his honor drag him to us. “Ragtag? Perhaps. Better to join together than be defeated as the Aroul.”
“You boast of a battle that never has been, little mare, but if you think you are man enough to take us, bring your riders—”
“I speak not of a defeat at our hands, Tasunke, but one already suffered. Else why do your sheep not graze on the hills of Nimarail? Surely the grass grows as lush there as ever?”
“Our sheep are happier on the hills of the Conneb-Hippi.” Tasunke said.
“Oh, surely. It couldn’t be because you fear the Amurites. Doubtless their magic blood means nothing to your brave warriors, and you merely let your sheep lead you about like lambs.” She got some laughs, even some from the Aroul. “Then what about the pass of Pristinus? Have the gargoyles unmanned you?”
“Who is a woman to speak of manhood?” he roared. “Do you seek to see us run through by the endless armies of these empires around us? Or have you the courage to fight us yourself?”
“No, Tasunke, I do not want to see the Aroul destroyed! You are the strongest—where goes the Aroul-Hippi, so goes all our people. We must put aside our pride, for the sake of our survival. Nations and empires surround us; we have this choice: cooperate or die. Let the Hippus ride as one!”
“Even so, we have not the strength combined to take on the least of these nations. Do you think you are the only one to realize our fate? Leave us to our games, girl.”
“You are right. We do not have the numbers of others. But our courage, our prowess, and our honor are legendary. The Amurites, the Grigori, the Khazad, huddled in their cities, what do you think they would give for these virtues? Whatever we ask.”
“You wish us to become merchants?”
“Just think of it as another kind of raiding.”